To access the in-game Tutorials, hit H. Do the tutorials, seriously.
There is a specific travel mode, for travelling (hit shift-1, among other ways, to activate it). There is also a scan mode, which seems to be for finding secrets and stuff (shift-2), and a long range scan mode, which seems to be for finding things like stations and secret lockboxes. (shift-3)
While wandering around stations, it’s possible to find traders who are in buildings at the docks with a large shopping cart hologram above them. You can buy crafting items from them, such as needles and bandages, and craft medkits. This turns a really good profit, at least for me as I start out.
There’s a sort of interplanetary superhighway – these long blue ribbons you can kind of see on the map, and in space. If you fly near one, then lower yourself down (using the s key), you can lock onto it and race around at very high speed. This is awesome. It’s possible to speed up slightly with x and slow down a bit with Z, so you can overtake traffic.
Manually docking the first time was confusing as hell. Not only must you follow the easy to see green lines to the docking zone, you need to line yourself up with your pad. This is best done by looking for a hologram. You need to roll (tilt side to side with q and e), align the front of your starship (hold mouse1 and turn to face), and get yourself lined up with the centre of the pad (z and x to put throttle backward and forward, or mousewheel also works), then hit s to go down and land.
Remember that hitting boost (tab) drains your shields. It also drains your opponent’s shields, so consider making an effort to chase them down if they’ve just boosted away.
To get missions you have to use the map screen, you don’t talk to people on a station. There is a tutorial for this. It details some requirements for accessing plot missions (level 10+ in a faction, for example, but I can’t confirm this.)
Sometimes you will overhear police radio type stuff. If a tiny ship gets marked as an enemy, for whatever reason, it seems to be safe to shoot it. You get a small bounty and a small boost to relations with the local faction.
I think I found some space landmines! They showed up on longscan as a field of ?s, and when I got close I couldn’t target them. But by running into them my ship exploded. They looked like yellow glows which I was hoping were some kind of valuable space mystery.
Longscanning and scanning can be used to find secret stuff. On longscan, look out for purple pings in the world (not on the map) which are invisible to radar.
When trying to hire people on a station, click the ship you want to add them to, then right click it and click ‘select’ in the popup menu. You can then assign them a role in the right hand hire dialogue menu.
To sell a ship, Open the map then select the ship you want to sell, then right click on a shipyard or warf and select sell ship in the drop down.
You can use the number keys, 1-4 and 5-8, to switch weapon groups on primary and secondary weapon toggles. I like leaving 2 empty, so I can be sure not to accidentally shoot at civilians when in crowded space.
How to sprint / run on stations? Double-tap the W-key.
If you right click an object on the map, you can select ‘start guidance to object’, which will lock it in yellow brackets. This means that if you switch on your autopilot, either in the ship interactions menu or by hitting shift-A, your ship will autopilot to the vicinity. Remember to turn on travel mode when necessary (Shift-1) and be aware your ship will NOT dock, or even necessarily slow down, when approaching that object. To be automatically flown around more easily, it’s better to get a pilot or captain, get up from the command chair (Ctrl-D or get up in the interaction menu), and give orders to the ship you’re in on the map interface. (Left click it, then right click where you want to go for a context menu).
If you’ve heard something about the strange acronym ‘PHQ’, or are interested in nefarious plots, a great start would be to do the ship modes tutorial and learn how to use scan mode (shift-2). You may encounter someone who needs your help by following up on a data leak signal near a station shortly after completing this tutorial, and your first steps to PHQ might be someone you find saying ‘Please Help Quick’.